B: Perhaps the biggest concern that people have about what government should do is how it should provide for them, and the main things that people want provided for them and their families include employment, education, and the basic necessities of life (shelter, food, water, etc.). So naturally a worry arises that these things wouldn’t be readily available in the case that government does not make a provision for them. It may be primarily for this reason that people don’t trust themselves with so much freedom, because they’re under the illusion that such things are “guaranteed” if the government assures them that they will take care of them all, whereas they may not be otherwise.
The reason that I say that the idea of a governmental guarantee is only an illusion is because government cannot truly make such guarantees. One has to remember that government cannot support itself; it can only do what it does through funds and resources it acquires through taxation or from donations – i.e., funds and resources acquired from somebody else. For instance, if nobody has any food, the government can’t provide it for us, because it doesn’t have any food to take from anybody. If there is no wealth to share, the government can’t give anybody any wealth, because it can’t get it from anywhere itself. I believe we talked about this kind of thing before. (Printing up more money cannot generate more wealth, as one may readily imagine; else why not simply print money any time expenses come up? It simply lowers the value of any pre-existing money.)
So really, what things the government does, it does because the people it governs enable it through the resources they’ve surrendered to it. If there is government-sponsored education, say, then all the resources needed for it have been provided by the people it taxed. If government did not sponsor education at all, then all those resources would be retained by those people, and therefore would still be available if those people ever wanted to run their own educational program, and depending on how they ran it, education would be provided for the masses, and usually more efficiently than the government would. Or there’s always the possibility that those people would decide to use those resources for something else. Generally, when people are given the opportunity to use their resources according to their own choosing (e.g., spend their money how they’d like to), it is done most efficiently, as long as people are wise, self-disciplined, and have high self-control (again, remember the qualifier “generally”).
The same principle goes for all the things that an already-existing government provides, whether it be transportation, welfare, employment, and other basic necessities. The same resources will still exist for all of these projects. Even if the government is able to run a profit of some sort on the programs it runs, people should be able to continue to run that profit in its absence, unless the government is somehow able to gain some competitive edge merely by its unique kind of presence in those programs.
A: Sounds logical and everything, but…the reality is that if they’d retained those resources, people would end up spending their money on themselves and won’t really help others much.
B: Is that necessarily true? A few factors may come into play here. Assuming that people don’t just waste their money on lavish expenditures that don’t really generate any wealth, their money instead will be spent and used in other sectors of society, which will in turn produce wealth and more opportunities, leading to more money being available everywhere, which can be invested to perpetuate more wealth, etc. – a wealth-generating cycle. Another factor is that when people realize that something they need is no longer being provided for by the government, they’ll sense an urgency, in a hurry, that they need to do something to take care of it, likely causing them to be more frugal with their resources, so that they put some of them away for whatever cause is being neglected. This also creates a remarkable incubator for innovative thoughts, for new and more efficient ways to do things.
And who’s to say that people wouldn’t already be “anxiously engaged” to do good things of their own initiative, or that they wouldn’t care enough about others to want to do something good for them? If people can see how what they do to benefit others may benefit themselves – say, because they feel it would make the world a better place, or by turning a profit on it – they would be all the more motivated to do it.